Alchemy and Meggy Swann
by Karen Cushman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Alchemy and Meggy Swann / 978-0-547-23184-6
I would have loved this lovely tale anyway, but I do confess to loving it even more so for its wonderfully spirited, partially crippled heroine. Hot tempered Meggy has more than a good reason to be so - saddled with hip dysplasia from birth, walking is painfully difficult, and can only be accomplished with the help of her walking sticks. It is so rare to find heroines in novels that are anything less than possessing a perfectly sound mind and body, and children will delight in this physically imperfect heroine, as well as in the unique friends she makes.
Though the title mentions 'alchemy', be aware that this is not a fantasy novel, but rather a historical fiction one. Meggy has been summoned to London to live with her alchemist father, only to find to her deep sadness and regret that she is no more wanted in her new home than she was in her old one. As she scrambles to work with her cold and unfeeling father, she quickly comes to make friends in spite of her natural suspicions of strangers, and through her own bravery and efforts learns to make a home for herself even when those who should provide for her fail to do so.
Underneath the delightful plot that will keep the reader turning pages until the very end, there is so much warmth and wholesomeness about this book that it is impossible not to love it. Though Meggy is often cold and hungry, the reader will be delighted with the many and varied friends that litter the streets of London - several with their own little physical imperfections that help Meggy to understand she is not alone in the world. And the sense of humor and sharp wit that marks the pages will delight the reader, as Meggy bandies sharps words with both those who would curse her for her limp as well as with her closest friends and companions (with, of course, varying degrees of acrimony).
In short, I deeply enjoyed "Alchemy and Meggy Swann" and would recommend it for adults and children alike, but especially for anyone like myself who finds it painful to walk and yet dreams of dancing.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
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